PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has shifted into the US$850,000 house belonging to Zambia National Soccer team defender Stophila Sunzu.
But Sangwa says Lungu must first retire from active politics before he can start to draw the benefits conferred on a former Head of State.
The House, which is worth close to 20 million in kwacha terms and located in Lusaka’s Ibex Hill suburb, was once put on sale by the China-based football celebrity who is fondly remembered by Zambian soccer lovers as the scorer of the winning penalty kick at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Final in Gabon. But sources close to Sunzu told News Diggers that the sale did not go through and the towering kingpin is now the landlord to the immediate past Zambian president.
Sources at Cabinet Office also told News Diggers that the government is responsible for paying President Lungu’s rentals in accordance with the tenancy agreement signed.
But Sangwa said the law did not support such benefits to a leader of a political party.
“Definitely he is not yet retired, it means he is still a politician and he cannot draw those retirement benefits. The practice has been that as long as you remain in active politics then you cannot get the benefits. You can’t say you have retired but you are a leader of a political party. If he is planning to stand in 2026, it means he is an active politician. The point is that, let’s assume that you pay him his benefits today and he stands in 2026 and wins, what will happen? It means he will draw retirement benefits and then draw a salary also, you can’t do that,” Sangwa argued.
“If he is an active politician and now we are told that the government has identified a residence to rent for him, that means he is fooling us. This is what needs to be clarified, if he is still in active politics, the government can’t pay rent for him. That entitlement kicks in when you retire, he has to make a statement of retirement and stop getting involved in politics.”
He went on to explain the provisions of the former president’s benefits Act.
“The provision is actually called “Benefits of former presidents Act”. This is what a former president is entitled to: an office, one personal secretary, three security guards, three cars with free maintenance and fuel entitlement to an extent determined by the Cabinet. One one car for the surviving spouse, three drivers but only one for the surviving spouse, one administrative assistant who shall be at the level of deputy permanent secretary, three house employees – which number may be increased by Cabinet, a diplomatic passport for the former president and his spouse, a furnished house, built or bought in Zambia by the State, at the place of the former president’s choice and ownership of the house must be transferred to him, medical treatment, one return ticket per year for the former president and his spouse, funeral expenses on his death. The law says subject to other provisions, the former president shall be entitled to tax-free monthly pension at the rate of 80 per cent of the incumbent. These are the retirement benefits of a former president. So how do you give such benefits to a leader of a political party who wants to come back into power? It’s illegal, in fact the law doesn’t even talk about renting a house, it talks about buying or building a house for him,” he said.
Sangwa noted that a former president who engages in active politics disqualifies himself from pension benefits.
“The pension and other benefits conferred by this Act shall not be paid, assigned or provided to a former president who is (a) in receipt of salary from the government, or engages in active politics. (2) A former president shall be disqualified from the pension and other benefits conferred by this Act (a) if he ceases to hold office on the ground of willful violation of the Constitution or of misconduct (b) if he is convicted of an offence and sentenced to prison,” said Sangwa.